Former Bleacher Report scribe Tom Schreier’s story is all-too familiar. An unpaid writer, he worked his way up the ranks, then expected to be considered for a paid writing gig.

That never happened.

Schreier wrote about his experiences with B/R in a recent post for Deadspin, another sports site. During his time at B/R, Schreier’s stories garnered 3 million hits, and he eventually earned the coveted title of Featured Columnist III .

With that was the expectation that he would be interviewed for a paid writing position with B/R. Instead, he got the runaround, and paid gigs typically went to outside writers – often big names in sports.

His story helps underscore the problems writers face. They simply don’t get paid well enough, and many are all-too-willing to take an unpaid job. For those writers, the carrots being dangled are exposure, experience and the eventual possibility of a paid position. The lesson learned here? Never work for free, whether you’re writing for the New York Times or for one of the many quality website content development services.

The Lowest-Paying Job

Of course, working as an intern is an exception to the rule. Internships offer experiences you can’t get in a classroom.

Beyond that? Never offer to write for free. Even if you feel it’s absolutely necessary – as in, a job offer  depends on you churning out a sample article – then you have to set limits.  Your time, after all, is valuable, even if you’re a novice writer.

Writers for years have received the short-end of the financial stick. 24/7 Wall St. recently did an analysis of the major occupations that earn less than $40,000 a year annually but typically require at least a bachelor’s degree. No. 1 on that list? Reporters and correspondents. The median wage was a paltry $34,530 per year, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $20,000 per year. As CNN points out, journalists’ salaries are much lower than the $42,666 median annual salary for 2012 graduates.

With shrinking newsrooms, journalists are increasingly turning to digital marketing and blogging. But the competition for the higher-paying jobs is fierce, and the financial cup isn’t exactly overflowing, either. The higher-paying gigs pay upwards of $100 for a 500-word article, but the vast majority of these writing jobs pay far less, sometimes less than half a penny a word, even at quality website content development services.

Hone Your Craft

So what’s the solution? Write, write and write some more. The more you write, the better you become. With a little luck, you’ll eventually make a name for yourself and won’t have to take those low-paying assignments. Keep in mind, too, that big names sell newspapers or garner clicks. One of Schreier’s complaints was that the paying gigs at B/R often went to outsiders who were big names in their industry. But fact is, those people already have a following, fair or not.

Most veteran writers will tell you they’re not in it for the money. They write because they’re passionate about it. However, if you want to be one of those big names that command high-paying writing assignments, you have to learn how to hone your craft. And the only way you do that is by writing as often as you can – but never for free.

 

meniceJake Rigdon is the executive editor at Article-Writing, a content writing service based out of Toronto. You can reach him on FacebookLinkedInGoogle+Twitter or by email at jake@nimblemedia.ca.